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Attachment = a strong, enduring, emotional and reciprocal relationship between two people. The bond involves seeking closeness and
feeling secure when in the presence of the attachment figure. The first attachments to form are between an infant and their caregiver.
Learning Theory. + A strength of learning theory is that its principles
Classical Conditioning. are based on scientific principles from an
Involves learning through association. established approach within the field of
Infants learn to associate their primary caregiver with the Psychology. For example, classical and operant
pleasure from food. (Cupboard love theory). conditioning are based on research by Pavlov and
Pavlov rang a bell every time dogs were presented with Skinner and form part of the behaviourist model.
food. The dogs learnt to associate the bell with the food This means that there is empirical evidence to
and eventually they were conditioned to salivate every suggest humans may learn behaviours (such as
time the bell was rung. attachment) according to these principles.
- One weakness of the learning theory of
attachment is that it is a reductionist explanation.
Once an association has been formed the infant will use
For example, it `reduces' the complex behaviour
social releasers to encourage feeding.
of attachment to very simple components such as
Social releasers include crying and waving.
stimulus-response or reinforcement. Whilst
These are likely to be rewarded by the primary caregiver,
learned experiences may influence attachment,
making it more likely for the infant to repeat behaviours in
reducing attachment to a single component
means that learning theory largely ignores all the
Behaviours can also be punished to discourage behaviour.
other influences on our attachments such as
The reinforcement process is reciprocal between both the
innate drives (Bowlby) and a child's temperament.
infant and the primary caregiver.
- Schaffer and Emerson found in 39% of infants that
Skinner pigeons learnt to press a button through being
their first primary attachment was not with the
rewarded with food every time they did so.
person who fed them.
Social Learning. - Research has found evidence to suggest that
Behaviours are learnt through observation. attachments are not always formed through the
For an infant, the primary caregiver acts as a model. provision of food but that infants may prefer
The attachment behaviour of the model is observed and comfort. This was found in Harlow's monkey study
then imitated. as the monkey formed an attachment with the
Therefore, children watch their parents engage in loving pseudo-mother made out of cloth. This study
and affectionate behaviour so imitate this in order to disproved the cupboard love theory as the
receive a reward. monkey preferred `contact comfort'. Therefore,
Bandura children watched a strange adult play either attachments must be formed for more emotional
aggressively or calmly with a bobo doll. After this they reasons, as suggested by Bowlby's theory.
imitate the adult they had observed. - A lot of the research has been based on animal
studies such as Pavlov, Skinner and Harlow. This
therefore makes generalisability difficult to
humans as they may not learn in exactly the same
Bowlby Evolutionary Theory. + Bowlby's theory has been useful in explaining the
Bowlby suggested that attachments are an adaptive process of infant attachment. Attachment does
process which has promoted the survival of the species seem to be innate rather than learned behaviour,
and so has become innate. as shown by Lorenz. Lorenz's research supports
Attachments are adaptive in 3 ways: the theory of imprinting to suggest attachments
1. Safety attachments result in a desire to are innate as he reared baby geese and imitated a
seek proximity. In evolutionary terms a child mother goose and found that the geese formed
without proximity with its carer was likely to attachments with him upon birth.
die and so could not reach sexual maturity. + Harlow's study highlights the importance of a
2. Emotional relationships attachments allow secure base which was provided by the
an infant to learn how to form and maintain pseudo-mother made out of cloth.
healthy emotional relationships, making the - The idea of making one primary attachment is not
infant more likely to form one themselves in always the case. For example, Schaffer and
the future. Emerson demonstrated that infants are capable of
making multiple attachments at far younger ages
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Secure base for exploration attachments than it was thought possible. It may be that
provide a secure base. Exploration is crucial multiple attachments are the norm rather than
for the development of cognitive skills. the exception.
Important factors in attachments: - The importance of monotropy may be
o Internal working model t he attachments overestimated as a study by Lamb showed that
made as a child provide a `framework' for male infants often show a preference for their
future relationships and attachments.…read more
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Parenting Style = inconsistent mothers who
4. (Very rare) Type D: Disorganised dazed and confused,
with no coherent way of dealing with separation or
o Parenting Style = abusive caregivers who
unpredictably frighten their children.
Van Ijzendoorn and Kroonenberg Cultural Variations in - The strange situation test assumes that behaviour
Attachment Types. has the same meaning in all cultures, when in fact
To investigate and compare infant attachment types cultural perception and understanding of
within differing countries and cultures.…read more
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To investigate whether separation in early life would case when separated from his mother but to further
behavioural problems later in life. this creates ethical issues.
88 children were referred to a child guidance counsellor. - Lacks population validity only one child was
44 were reported as being thieves and 44 were observed and he was male. This makes it difficult
emotionally disturbed who did not steal.…read more
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Rutter et al. institutionalisation to be studied. However, there
A longitudinal study on 100 Romanian orphans who had is the risk of participants dropping out of the
been adopted by British carers. All the orphans had study due its length meaning all data on the
experienced severe privation before their adoption. individual will have to be destroyed.
Rutter compared these adopted children to UK born + Implications an implication of this study is that
adoptees who were also placed with British families.…read more
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Aged 6 ½ the social competence of the children was - Culture bias the study was conducted in Sweden
assessed. The carers were asked to provide detailed therefore making it difficult to generalise the
information regarding the child's social skills. findings to other cultures, especially when
At 8 ½ the class teachers were asked to give their Sweden has such high quality day care due to
perception of the child's social behaviours. money and resources.…read more